Splashes of vibrant colour, bursts of heady perfume, quirky ideas, formal, artisanal and corporate designs, craftsmanship in wood and metal, blown glass beauty – all this and more at the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show.
Click images to enlarge.
I met my sculptor friend Andrew Logan shortly after arriving. Once the Chelsea Pensioners had descended we had a lot of fun climbing Diarmuid Gavin’s sturdy, though extremely steep, ladders on The Westland Magical Garden – it’s not for the fainthearted. A scaffold pyramid with different garden features on every level, this is more an installation than a garden, with a central lift (followed by several said ladders to reach the top) and a slide to go down, which of course I had to use. The adrenalin rush was fabulous!
Entering the main pavilion was a sensory treat. Flowers, flowers everywhere! My eyes were overwhelmed by vibrant and luxurious colours and textures of begonia, diascia, delphinium, iris, agapanthus, pointsettia and clematis, while hyacinth, lily, rose and sweet pea provided wafts of perfume at every turn. Vegetables are showcased here too, grown by pupils from 150 schools, something close to my own heart.
Show gardens range from cold, dull, seen-it-before corporate to delightful and thought-provoking artisanal sanctuaries. My favourites – Korean DMZ Forbidden Garden, Herbert Smith’s WaterAid Garden and The Plant Explorer’s Garden.
It was celeb-central, with June Whitfield, Alison Steadman (pictured), and ‘60s model Penelope Tree (pictured) the real i-Cons among them. In a lovely chilled area I found Kaffe Fassett, Orla Kiely, Wild at Heart and VV Rouleaux in their respective summer houses.
And then there’s the gorgeous garden shopping – tools, boots, gloves and kneelers, seeds, plants, luxurious lotions and potions, shiny cape-coats and super-sustainable wool compost. I was happy to see a nice selection of wall brackets, particularly useful for urban vertical growing, as well as traditional and modern sundials. I also loved the comfy pod-hammocks, so much that I climbed in with Andrew for a little lay down and rested a while.
Tickets are long since sold out, but RHS Hampton Court Flower Show is coming up with the promise of more glamorous gardening for your further delectation.
Text and Photography: Scarlett Cannon
Image credits from top: Hyacinth Dutch Producers; Jamaica Garden; The Message for Interflora; Scarlett and Andrew Logan in a Cacoon pod-hammock by hang-in-out.com; Heyland and Whittle; John Clowes with Miracle Gro’wers; Chrysanthemums-Direct; Begonia and delphinium Blackmore and Langdon; Orla Kiely’s summer hourse; Penelope Tree and Andrew Logan; 1949 silk flowers at VV-Rouleaux’s summer house; Chelsea Pensioners on Diarmuid Gavin’s Westland Magical Garden; Alison Steadman; Scarlett in Kaffe Fassett’s summer house.